This is a fantastic meat-free main course to serve at Christmas – the tang of the Comté and the sweetness of the chestnut purée work beautifully with the earthy flavours of the nuts and mushrooms. Each croute serves four people, so you can cook one now and freeze the other for a later date, or halve the qualities to feed just four people. To make a vegetarian version, seek out a veggie-friendly Comté.
For the pâté en croute
- 2 x 320g packs all-butter puff pastry sheets
- 30g unsalted butter
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 stick celery, finely chopped
- 250g mushrooms, chopped quite small
- 1 large clove garlic, crushed
- 120g walnuts, chopped quite small
- 360g cashew nuts, chopped quite small
- 240g unsweetened chestnut puree
- 150g Comté, cubed (aged for 18 or 24 months)
- 2 tbsps brandy
- ½ tsp paprika
- 1 tsp thyme leaves, chopped
- 2 free range eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 free range egg, beaten, to glaze
For the sauce
- 250g mushrooms, sliced
- 30g butter
- 300ml full fat soured cream (full fat is key as half fat will split when heated)
1Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium-to-low heat and gently fry the onion, mushrooms and celery for about 10 minutes until soft, but not brown. Remove from the heat, stir in all other ingredients, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and mix well. Leave to cool.
2Heat oven to 200˚C (180˚C fan).
3Lay the pastry sheet out flat.
4Form the mixture into two sausage shapes a bit shorter than the length of the pastry, then roll the pastry around the filling (like a large sausage roll), cut off any excess overlap and brush the edges with beaten egg and press to seal the pastry. Glaze the surface of the pastry with the beaten egg – excess pastry can be used to decorate, i.e. cut out leaf shapes or stars to stick on with more beaten egg.
5Line two baking sheets with non-stick parchment or silicone and carefully transfer the croutes and bake for 30 minutes until dark golden brown (you can freeze them at this point; defrost completely before baking).
6Meanwhile, make the sauce: melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat and fry the mushrooms, turn the heat down very low, stir in the soured cream, season with salt and black pepper and serve straight away.